Is it a bird, or is it a plane? Neither — it’s Cayleb Jones.
The 6-foot-3 Longhorn commit certainly stood out at Wednesday morning’s Austin High School football practice, showing off the raw ability that made him Rivals.com’s No. 3 wide receiver in 2012.
The Austin High senior recently returned from a 7-on-7 tournament in Florida, where he suffered two bone chips in his left ring finger. So what does the top receiver in the state do? Simple, he just catches balls one-handed now.
“I’m not even trying to catch with my [left] hand, because I don’t want to mess it up,” he said.
Jones will lead his Maroons through a final season, and then come to the Forty Acres ready to contribute immediately as a freshman, as the overall newness of the program has opened up new opportunities.
“I just want to be that guy they can go to to get a first down,” Jones said. “I want to be accountable, and do what needs to be done.”
The Texas football program is in a time of transition, with a lot of coaching changes to go with some recent attrition, most notably at the wide receiver position where the Longhorns have lost four players since the spring.
“You would never be able to tell there were any problems at UT with how fast things are moving,” said Jones, who recently stopped by to check out a Texas practice. “Guys are just carefree and they want to play.”
Austin High has a history of accomplished receivers who Jones keeps in contact with, most notably his cousin Emory Blake, who was last seen catching a touchdown pass from Cam Newton in the BCS title game. Jones calls them his “best friends” and says he keeps in contact with all of the standouts that have come before him. In two years of varsity play, Jones has caught 17 touchdowns to go with 1,910 receiving yards. And he has a shot at the state’s all-time receiving record — with 154 career receptions, he’s less than 100 away from Jordan Shipley’s mark of 252.
Such gaudy statistics and hype surrounding the four-star recruit means there may be high expectations for him early on. So, it’s a good thing Jones is already getting good practice, as he has to deal with the pressures of playing high school football in the same city he will play college ball, and the increased spotlight that comes with it.
“I guess there’s pressure now, but it’s nothing like it will be,” he said. “I just have to work hard, and hopefully it will all show.”
Printed on Thursday, August 11, 2011 as: Finger injury not slowing Jones down